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  #1  
Old 10-09-2018, 08:50 PM
Dale Sams Dale Sams is offline
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Crazy ass shit you saw at the fair when the fair was THE FAIR!

(I think this is probably the right place for this topic.)

So me and my dad went in like 1975 I think it was. First the rides were sketchy as hell. We rode this Octopus Thing. But either the bar didn't work or there was none cause he literally had to hold onto me to keep me from flying out to my doom. And afterwards you'd see a bunch of men wandering around getting their wallets and sunglasses that had flown out.

ALSO...they had babies. In jars. Babies in jars. Various babies from from different points in the pregnancy term in jars. Four months, five months....etc...
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Old 10-09-2018, 08:55 PM
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Well, there were the Giant Sewer Rats From Paris. I wanted to see those but mom wouldn't let me. I did see a huge cow, reputed to be THE LARGEST EVER, and a humongous alligator. If someone payed extra they'd open his mouth and you could see the humongous teeth.
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Old 10-09-2018, 10:23 PM
CairoCarol CairoCarol is offline
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I ate a discomfiting and horridly bright yellow soup, allegedly from the Netherlands. I'm not sure if it was at the 1964 world's fair in New York or the HemisFair '68 fair in San Antonio; my parents took me to both when I was small. I remember the frightening soup, not the year.
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Old 10-09-2018, 11:06 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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About 10 years ago, I lived in a rural area, and their county fair not only had the Ferris wheel from "Neverland" (nothing to write home about; it was rusty and there was no way I was personally going to ride it), it had displays of award-winning 4H projects. One had an accompanying essay that included the line "Mares may produce semen......"

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Old 10-09-2018, 11:09 PM
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One time at the Tom Green County Fair I saw a calf with five legs.

The fifth one was kind of limp and shapeless and just hanging off the calf's shoulder, but I still felt like I got my money's worth.

By the way, Roger Miller was right: The Tom Green County Fair's got one fine rodeo!
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Old 10-09-2018, 11:48 PM
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One had an accompanying essay that included the line "Mares may produce semen......"
Sounds like some farmboy was trying to explain how that semen got in there.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:07 AM
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I saw a 2 headed snake once. I was freaked out about that for many years. I rode these swings that went round and round, while your feet dangled. It died, we were all hanging about 15 feet from the ground. Not that far, but as a 7yo it was high. My oldest brother was supposed to be minding us, but no, he was chasing around after girls. He just kept feeding us tickets and we just kept riding. When they finally got everyone off the swing ride my brother was frantic because he couldn't find me. I milked that secret for many months.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:46 AM
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A local fire department had a big fair to raise funds every year when I was a kid. They still have it but I imagine it's a lot tamer.

They had the usual rides that were sketchy safety-wise. They had a fun house that was actually just a few trailers that you rode through that had some flashing lights and screaming dummies. One year some people got electrocuted to death in it.

They had the usual rigged carnival games where even if you did win all you got was some worthless piece of junk.

I remember one game where you threw ping pong balls at a collection of small fish bowls each containing a live gold fish... well at least some of them were alive. If you managed to land one in a bowl (they usually bounced off) then you won the bowl and the fish which, if it was alive to start with, was usually dead by the next morning. If you landed a ball in a bowl with a dead fish they'd tell you that you killed it.

They also had what appeared to be real old fashioned sideshows with things like wolf boys and snake ladies, etc. Unfortunately my parents wouldn't take us in those.

They also had "girly shows", usually with an unattractive woman in a bikini dancing in front to attract customers. I was too young to be let in those but I heard stories from some lecherous old guys about women shooting eggs and ping pong balls (if you get my drift).

Wow. I used to love going to that fair, but reading what I just wrote I have to wonder why!
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:49 AM
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I was on our county Fair board for awhile. I finally decided it was just too depressing. And I couldn't figure out who really benefitted from the fair, the fair board? The county? I decided my volunteer hours could be put to better uses, and I moved on. Every time I've been to the fair in the last few years it just sadder and sadder. The good old fair days are gone. IMO.
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Old 10-10-2018, 02:20 AM
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I saw a snake woman. Human from head to hips, snake bottom part. She sang a love song, I think.
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Old 10-10-2018, 03:09 AM
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Seeing two guys get out of "The Zipper" with puke all over them, and retching.

Worth the price of admission.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:34 AM
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Back in the late '70s the County Fair had the usual "Human Oddities" and animals with birth defects typical of the time. But the one thing I remember was that "bulldozer" machine that you put tokens into where the tokens would land toward the back and the machine would push them - along with prizes on top of the coins - to the front to drop out. There was once a pack of "nudie" playing cards that I spent every dime I had trying to get while my father wasn't looking. Ah, good times.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:37 AM
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There was a fair that came to Anchorage when I was a kid. I remember a ride that was sort of like a Ferris wheel, but people were in an enclosed cage. The cages didn't rotate, but instead turned the riders upside down. When they were loading and unloading passengers, the people at the top hung upside down while all their change rained down out of their pockets. I remember there was a guy down below with a rake, who would collect all the bounty.

They also had a full-sized stuffed moose. I have a photo of me, my brother and my stepfather sitting on it. I've convinced many people in my life that we had a pet moose.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:41 AM
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I saw the Flying Indians at the World's Fair in 68 and then saw them again at a county fair here in PA around 1971. They were all impressed as hell (in Spanish) at seeing one of their programs pop up for autographs. They were odd in a cultural fashion and the fact that they basically made a career out of what had (at first) been basically a one-event shot was cool.

In the more normal form of crazy ---- a lot of freak shows/stunt shows and some displays of things that just could have been real.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:10 AM
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Several "fun houses" would feature on the front of the ride huge paintings of curvaceous next-to-nude women wearing only see through lingerie running away from something in terror. One might be headless and another with a missing limb or a knife in her back. Circa: 1975.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:16 AM
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Nothing to add, but great thread title.
  #17  
Old 10-10-2018, 09:20 AM
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Any self-respecting fair would have either 'Bonnie and Clyde's Death Car' or 'Hitler's custom built Mercedes'. Both if you were lucky.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:40 AM
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We have plenty of fairs here but the only one I go to is the state fair. It is truly an agricultural fair with 4H and FFA exhibits and exhibit barns for about every farm-type animal. I don't ever recall anything highly unusual though.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:35 AM
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Our fire department had a "block party" to raise money. Mostly they consisted of small booths where they spun a wheel; if your number came up, you won a prize.

There were other tests of "skill" -- throwing balls at a target, etc. The rides were unimpressive; I barely remember they had them.

Another booth involved punch cards. They consisted of a 3/4-in thick block of cardboard, with a bunch of depressions on them. You'd pay your money, choose one of the spots and pushed into it with a bit of thick wire. A small slip of paper came out, saying that you lost.

But not always. In my case, I won a toaster. I gave it to my grandmother (I was around 10) and she used it the rest of her life.

Years later, I started going to local county fairs.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:45 AM
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I have a vivid memory of going to a fair in Hawaii in the 60s and seeing a hammerhead shark and a manta ray being displayed in large above-ground pools.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:50 AM
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There's a little carnival in our small town. Every summer when they are setting up, either my gf or I will say, "awwww, christ, the carnies are in town". Not sure what this means or implies, but it's a tradition.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:52 AM
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In 1974 or so I saw Buck Owens perform. He said he was going to set the world's fastest guitar picking record. He said the last time he attempted it his pickin' hand caught on fire and fire trucks had to be called to put out the stage fire.

He was indeed fast, I don't know if he set any record, but he didn't catch on fire so I left a little disappointed.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:57 AM
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Pomona County Fair in the 1960s.

I remember a barker promising us a look at a "Giant rat! From the jungles of South America!", and when we went in, we saw a capybara. A sleepy, bored-looking capybara.

I also remember getting to pet the Budweiser Clydesdales, and being awestruck at how colossal they were. That wasn't everything seeming big to me because I was little; I saw them again as an adult and they were still colossal.

I saw a huge flock of brand-new chicks and when you get that many chicks together, their peeping can be kind of deafening.

Can you tell I like animals?
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:06 AM
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Some rigged game which was like roulette with a live rodent rather than a little ball. A pretty lady started making bets shortly after I did and I was too young to realize that I should be copying her bets.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:16 AM
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Oh, yeah, and a coin-operated machine containing a live chicken that played a piano.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:29 AM
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The 'burlesque' show. My husband was an excellent photographer and took great photos of the fair at night. He took a great one of all the lovelies standing outside the tent in their feathers and fishnet stockings, in the light of the midway at night....anyway, we finally went in to see the show the last year they had it, and I remember mildly naughty dances, and one middle aged chunky topless gal manhandling her rather doughy boobs, lol.

2) . The 'freak show' - I guess we waited too long, by the time the freak show came around, there were very few left. One old guy who came out in a sawdust ring viewers stood around, and swallowed a sword. A lot of mis-shapen skeletons and mummified remains of creatures that had been freakish when alive (two headed snake, animal fetuses (I hope) in bottles, and photographs of oddities when they were alive years prior. Oh, and the snake woman - the snake woman was a grizzled old gal dressed like a gypsy, sitting in the ring, smoking and looking absolutely disgusted with us and her lot in life. She ground out her smoke, opened a basket, took out a snake, and stuck its' head into her mouth! Then she put it back in the basket, picked up a tambourine and shook it, holding it out (indicating we should tip her). We all threw change into her tambourine. And that was the end of the freak show.

3) . We were walking through the fair with our 10 year old and a borrowed neighbor boy and stopped to look at some magnificent draft horses. The one nearest to us displayed an awesome length of genitals, big as my arm it looked! Of course, the neighbor boy noticed and made several comments - 'lookit that, lookit that Mr. Salinqmind - is that the horses's pee pee? Look how long, is he gonna pee now? How come it's doing that? Lookit, Baby Salinqmind, look!' ......oooooookay, now, let's move along, hey, look, over there, who wants Dippin' Dots???
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Old 10-10-2018, 02:17 PM
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There used to be a state fair in Connecticut. It's long gone (and there is now a mall on the site) but we went one year. One thing I remember seeing is a camper van/RV carved out of a redwood tree trunk. And there was a guy selling some sort of kitchen gadget and I remember being very impressed at how skillful he was in delivering the sales pitch, with the whole patter and everything. He was very much like one of those guys selling crap on one of those infomercials.
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Old 10-10-2018, 02:37 PM
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Our state fair has two or three buildings with those people in them, selling all kinds of things.
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Old 10-10-2018, 03:15 PM
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I saw a snake woman. Human from head to hips, snake bottom part. She sang a love song, I think.
I remember her, the snake part was so obvious a costume but the main attraction (for men anyway) was that she would flash her boobs if you threw a dollar at her.

My main fair memory is the big slide that you sat on a burlap sack to slide down. A carnie got mad that a girl (aged 10-12) went down the slide before he said go, and reached out and grabbed her burlap sack as she was in mid-slide, causing her to wipe out ala "the agony of defeat" from the old Wide world of sports intro. A fight broke out between the girls parents and the carnie. My parents whisked me away when punches started flying.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:16 PM
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Saw the jars with the misshapen fetuses of animals that were being touted as human.

There was the handwriting analysis machine that then spit out your fortune as a series of computer punch cards. When I went to college and went into computing, looking at the punch cards showed that the holes were just randomly placed. Lots of lights and sounds, but no actual computer involved (this would be about 1970).

Never got to see the "man eating chicken" exhibit, even though it was only a dime....
  #31  
Old 10-10-2018, 05:53 PM
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And there was a guy selling some sort of kitchen gadget and I remember being very impressed at how skillful he was in delivering the sales pitch, with the whole patter and everything. He was very much like one of those guys selling crap on one of those infomercials.
There was one of those at the North Carolina State Fair one year -- the guy was selling knock-off ShamWow cloths. I was impressed enough with his enthusiastic pitch that I bought a couple of bundles. I still have most of them; they're great for drying your hair, or absorbing water from automotive upholstery when you can't remove it from the vehicle.

I always avoided most fair food (can't digest most fried stuff), but I always liked to find unique cotton candies, like maple-based. My family tended to avoid most rides for safety reasons, but fun houses were fine. I remember going to some of the exhibits too, particularly the ones where people would give you a hands-on demonstration of a long-lost craft.

Last edited by Jeep's Phoenix; 10-10-2018 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:04 PM
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Never got to see the "man eating chicken" exhibit, even though it was only a dime....
https://www.gocomics.com/nancy/2012/11/07
  #33  
Old 10-10-2018, 07:28 PM
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The Stainless Steel Rat The Stainless Steel Rat is offline
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Been years since I've been to a fair, my memories of the county fairs in Ohio as a youth are pretty frayed (I do remember one sideshow with 'lobster boy', a young man with only two large digits on each hand). Mostly the rides and the cotton candy and the horses.

Last memory was from the early 1980's at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, where the featured attraction was the Chicago Knockers women's mud wrestling team; they didn't call us Hooiser for nothing, you know...
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:34 PM
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One of my college classmates used to work for a carnival, in the summers. He manned one of the game booths (ring toss, or something like that). The management told him to emphasize how easy it was, but he was honest about it: "How hard is it?" "Pretty hard; we only get about two or three winners a day.". He says that his booth got more business than any of the others.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:29 PM
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Sounds like some farmboy was trying to explain how that semen got in there.
No, I remember that the project was done by a girl, and she did indeed write that.
  #36  
Old 10-10-2018, 08:49 PM
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I ate a discomfiting and horridly bright yellow soup, allegedly from the Netherlands.
Maybe that was actually crazy ass-shit.
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:14 PM
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I remember I paid to see The World's Smallest Horse as a kid. Not worth it.

I also remember a funhouse that ended with a guy in a gorilla mask jumping out, revving a chainsaw. That freaked the crap out of me!

And of course there was the ever-popular Combine Crash (demolition derby with combine harvesters).

EDIT: Too bad that fairs don't stage head-on locomotive collisions nowadays. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yHsuFaDBYE

Last edited by hogarth; 10-10-2018 at 11:16 PM.
  #38  
Old 10-10-2018, 11:38 PM
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In my town we had some low rent Brokeass County Junior Fair... how much of a loser did I feel like that our county didn't get a full County Fair, just a Junior Fair?

Why did we go to the fair? Because that's how bored we were! Freak show without any freak on? Fun house with no actual fun? Sure, might as well... nothin' else to do.

We used to go every day and sometimes sneak out after midnight and hang around the carnies, who were the only dangerous guys we'd ever seen. Moonshine, tattoos, tempers and switchblades... I often think of how lucky we were not to have been cut or abducted.



If you want to get your mind blown by a real fair, do what we finally did: drive to Minneapolis around Labor Day for a fair that's 10x bigger and 100x more professional than any other fair I'd ever seen. And the food... I mean, we were munching on deep-fried Snickers On A Stick, and washing it down with a hearty pint of Maple Bacon Stout.
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:29 AM
GoodOldKJ GoodOldKJ is online now
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Growing up in the 80's we had the small horse, snake kafy, lobster boy gimmicks. We also often had the guys on motorcycles inside the BALL OF STEEL!!! I went several times to see the old freakshow items like fetuses in bottles and so called mutants. Oh and the rides!
Now it's all food.....
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:33 AM
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My friend Bryan and I saw 2 guys eat horse shit at the Wisconsin State Fair.

I'm not kidding.

We were walking down Grandstand Avenue of the fair park. There were chunks of horse manure on the street from the police horses that passed through previously. Two drunks were walking in front of us and one of them picked up a golf ball sized glob and bit it in half and started chewing it.

Then he tossed the remaining half into the waiting open mouth of his inebriated friend, not unlike the shrimp cocktail scene in the Blues Brothers.

While people in the vicinity were gagging and freaking out Bry and I were in awe of the level of intoxication these gents had achieved. We'll never forget it and I'm sure his last words on his death bed will be "I saw a guy eat horse shit!!!!"
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:02 AM
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The county fair was only a couple miles away from where I lived as a kid. We'd ride our bikes (over a steep hill) and spend all day there several times during the fair.

(Can you imagine parents now letting 12 year old kids ride their bikes to spend the day at the fair?)

So I saw a lot of odd-ish things but nothing really bizarre. The carnies were interesting, of course. Took a while to figure out the cons going on. Hey, I was young. The "industrial" halls with their hucksters selling the latest wonder crap. There was a small building for the photo contest display. Some of the pics were fairly interesting from a kid point of view.

There was an arcade tent with different coin-op old school things. They had some stereo-viewer things. Put in a dime and see some pics in stereo. Some had pictures of ladies with certain parts blacked out with a marker. We soon discovered they only did one image. If you close that eye the other wasn't censored at all. This was a big thing to young boys but nothing compared to the Internet today.

At night we'd go back with the parents (because of the horse racing). The galaxy of lights was amazing.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:51 AM
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Can't say I've ever been to anything but the State Fair of Texas, and that for the first time in 2009.

But by far the craziest thing I've seen there are the attendees. Bizarre clothing, strange behaviors, you name it. You get the salt of the earth there for sure; it's one of the few places I've ever been where there's both a low income urban and low income rural crowds intermixing.
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:03 AM
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Can't recall anything particularly weird at THE FAIR! I did leap at the opportunity to buy a totally rad Iron Maiden necklace there.


My boyfriend's aunt and uncle worked at the fair one year. I remember his brother saying dejectedly, "Man, I always knew we were trailer trash...but now we're related to carnies!"
  #44  
Old 10-11-2018, 11:24 AM
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Can't say I've ever been to anything but the State Fair of Texas, and that for the first time in 2009.

But by far the craziest thing I've seen there are the attendees. Bizarre clothing, strange behaviors, you name it. You get the salt of the earth there for sure; it's one of the few places I've ever been where there's both a low income urban and low income rural crowds intermixing.
The local radio station once did a bit about the Minnesota State Fair. One DJ would say a one-word clue, and they other DJ had to guess what they saw:

Clue: "Unemployable"
Answered right away: "Neck tattoo"
  #45  
Old 10-11-2018, 01:51 PM
Max Torque Max Torque is offline
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Fondest memory: I was probably eight or something, and I played one of those crane machines, for a dime, and I won a switchblade comb. GREAT prize for only ten cents.

Another memory: I don't now why I remember this, but I recall the woman running the "basketball" game calling after my brother and me (we were tall kids) and trying to get us to spend money there. To encourage us to come over, she threw the ball to my brother, hoping he'd catch it and at least engage with her, but he just let it drop and kicked it down the midway; she had to chase after it. It was funny to me at the time.

I was too nervous to see any of the human freak shows, but I did pay to see the "largest horse" once, when I was about 11 or 12. It was about six feet at the shoulder, so not really a world record, but still plenty big.
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:49 PM
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I had wanted to go to the freak show for years after seeing Popeye drumming up business by standing outside the tent and popping his eye out of its socket as the barker told of all the other wonders waiting inside. Finally the big day came! I was quickly disappointed as the "world's tallest man" (not all that tall) was also the "world's fattest man" (he did stand out circa 1969, but I routinely see more obese guys around town in 2018). The sword-swallower, the fire-eater, and the "bed of nails" daredevil were all the same guy. You get the picture.

One performer who never disappointed was Bobo. He'd sit on a perch above a dunk tank and taunt passers-by into ponying up a few quarters in exchange for balls that could "Make Bobo splash!" if your toss hit the target. No prizes, just the joy of seeing that insulting clown plummet into the water and shut up for a minute or two until climbing back up and starting his spiel all over again. Although this guy is not as entertaining as the Bobos I remember, here's a taste (spoilered for potentially offensive language):

  #47  
Old 10-11-2018, 03:04 PM
Disheavel Disheavel is offline
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I saw a figure 8 car race! like 5 years ago! Dumbest thing I've ever seen!!!
  #48  
Old 10-11-2018, 03:33 PM
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Skywatcher Skywatcher is offline
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Originally Posted by Disheavel View Post
I saw a figure 8 car race! like 5 years ago! Dumbest thing I've ever seen!!!
How about a figure 8 race with school buses? It's on Netflix (race stars around the 47 minute mark).

Last edited by Skywatcher; 10-11-2018 at 03:34 PM.
  #49  
Old 10-11-2018, 06:23 PM
seal_cleaner seal_cleaner is offline
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Location: Northwest Arkansas
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
There was a fair that came to Anchorage when I was a kid. I remember a ride that was sort of like a Ferris wheel, but people were in an enclosed cage. The cages didn't rotate, but instead turned the riders upside down. When they were loading and unloading passengers, the people at the top hung upside down while all their change rained down out of their pockets. I remember there was a guy down below with a rake, who would collect all the bounty.

They also had a full-sized stuffed moose. I have a photo of me, my brother and my stepfather sitting on it. I've convinced many people in my life that we had a pet moose.
The Zipper. Years ago I won some wind chimes for my girlfriend at some booth, then took them with us on the Zipper. They shattered and there was flying shards of glass everywhere.
Good times.
  #50  
Old 10-11-2018, 07:43 PM
P-man P-man is offline
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I remember a sideshow where the ad depicted a nekkid woman pulling another nekkid woman's arm off. Looking back, the women in the crude paintings looked a lot like mannequins. This was at the Appalachian Fair in Gray Station, TN circa 1973.
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